GREENDALE - After school board member Victoria McCormick declared non-candidacy, three individuals – Mary Laurel Grogan, Kathleen Wied-Vincent and Tina Zamjahn – stepped up to fill the seat requiring a primary Feb. 21.
The three candidates have varying levels of experience and views on priorities set by the Greendale School District, as well as their own views on what's most important.
To examine their positions, Now Newspapers asked three questions relating to the job and their ability to serve the school board.
The top two candidates will face off on April 4 for the position which is a regular, three-year term.
1. Following a community survey, three district priorities were identified: Personal Pathways through Project Based Learning, Career Pathways for Students, and Youth Community Participation. What are your thoughts on these and how can the district best approach and work on these priorities?
Grogan: I am a member of the Career Pathways strategic planning committee. I think it is a good idea to revisit and revise the strategic plan on a regular basis and to involve all of the stakeholders in the community as much as possible. I look forward to seeing the recommendations generated by each of the three committees. I hope I will be on the school board when these initiatives are implemented.
Wied-Vincent: As an educator myself, I believe strongly in each of these priorities and I especially embrace the priority which focuses on youth community participation. To me, this particular priority will allow our students to view themselves as an integral community member. Through this type of connection, I feel that our community will thrive.
Zamjahn: The top three district priorities were the result of a community survey and community discussion. The district has set in place three groups comprised of GSD staff and community members. I am working with the Career Pathway group to help define goals and steps needed to provide students with a plan to determine appropriate post high school academic or occupational pathways.
2. With no incumbent in this race, the experience level may play a significant factor. How will your experience, whatever that may be, benefit the school board and why?
Grogan: My experience as a school board member sets me apart from the other candidates in the following ways: I am familiar with the role of a school board member; I understand the finances of public school funding and I have three years of service to build on. This is important especially during a time of transition. There are changes in leadership at the local, state and national level. With change on the horizon, it makes sense to elect the most experienced candidate.
Wied-Vincent: I have 26-plus years of extensive experience teaching in public schools in Wisconsin (including experience as a Greendale teacher). I believe that a strong school board member consists of an individual who has experience both in the school setting and also in the community at large. I am someone who researches educational topics and also who is not afraid to advocate for the best interest of public education. As a longtime resident and a product of the Greendale Public School District (class of 1985), I would work hard to ensure our continued educational success by connecting our community with the school district.
Zamjahn: I am a lifelong Greendale resident. I graduated from Greendale High School, as did my three children. My grandchildren are currently students in Greendale. I worked for the district tech department for over 20 years and have been coaching our high school cheer team since 1982. I have served on superintendent advisory committees beginning with Dr. Knapp. I feel I’d be a good board representative for our community and also a good spokesperson and advocate of our district.
3. Name one issue in the district you think should receive more attention. Why does it need attention and how would you approach it/fix it/etc.?
Grogan: I hesitate to name an issue that demands more attention than the three issues already prioritized by the community. Guiding the new superintendent as he implements the revised strategic plan is the role of every school board member. Youth programming is near and dear to my heart because my first job at age 14 was with Greendale Park and Recreation, as a twi-night umpire and later as a playground leader/supervisor.
Wied-Vincent: Budget challenges are probably the single most difficult issue that Greendale School District has faced in recent years. As state and national politics have played a role in reducing the funding for public schools, high-performing districts such as Greendale have been forced to try to continue their path of excellence with less resources. As a school board member, I would work hard to ensure that our students and schools are supported and that our community's needs are heard at the state and national level.
Zamjahn: Our district must continue to assess the condition of our buildings and grounds and regularly evaluate and plan for necessary maintenance and/or renovations. Student enrollment is projected to rise by the 2019-20 school year, and we must have a plan in place for our already crowded buildings.
Address: 7901 W. Edgerton Ave.
Political history: Independent
Phone number: 414-405-0880
Address: 6803 West Grange Ave., Greendale
Political history: Wisconsin State Assembly Candidate; Greendale School Board Candidate
Phone number: 262-225-9433
Facebook Page: Wied-Vincent for Greendale School Board
Mary Laurel Grogan
Address: 4962 Sutton Lane, Greendale
Political history: Registered Republican, independent voter
Phone number: 414-367-2435